tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC May 22, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT
so why should our history matter to you? because for more than two centuries, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. ♪ and the next great idea could be yours. ♪ in disaster's wake, the long process of recovery has begun again. it's wednesday, may 22nd. this is "now." 17 miles long, nearly one mile wide, that is the strip of destruction. this video shot by a resident gives a sense of what the tornado felt like. the national weather service reports the twister was an ef-5, the highest category on the
scale, one characterized by winds of at least 200 miles per hour. the death toll stands at 24, including nine children. right now homeland security secretary janet napolitano is en route to the city of moore, and with meet with governor fallin in the next hour. >> there's just sticks and bricks, basically. it's hard to tell if there was a structure there or not. you can't tell where the streets were, the street signs are gone, and it's been a big challenge for us.ç which area of the communities we might in, because the streets are just gone. >> as residents begin to put their lives together there are urgent questions. moore, which has seen the population triple since 1970 to 55,000 people, fits squarely in tornado alley, but neither of
the schools that were decimated by the twister had safe rooms for children and teachers. they huddled in the hallways and bathrooms, hoping to ride it out. >> they told us to get our book bags, and then we went in the hall. >> why did she tell you to get a math book or bag? >> to put it over our heads. >> i did something we were probably not supposed to do, and i prayed. i prayed out loud. >> oklahoma does not require safe rooms in houses, schools or businesses. that decision is left to the districts. the state director for emergency management had no directed funding for safe rooms in the schools that were leveled by monday -- >> it's up to the local jurisdictions to put up what -- you have a limited amount of funds based on disasters used to mitigation measures, then you set priorities on which schools
you do want to ask for. joining mess today, contributing wditor benjamin wallace wells, depend my marror of -- wolfson and karen finney, and editorial director of "the national journal" ron fournier. and joining us is craig melvin from moore, oklahoma. craig, we're talking about protections that were or were not in place in advance. you're on the ground there. what is the sense among residents in moore, is there a feeling of anger or indignation? obviously a huge amount of recovery to be done both physically and emotional. >> i would describe the feeling as thankful. everyone you talk to here is thankful that it was not worth. we just spent time talking to a daycare operator, and just on the damage and the destruction,
everyone here pretty much says this could have been far, far worse than the 24 deaths. two of 9 ten were infants, at the conversation starts, a lot of people continue to talk about the story of survival that we've been talking about i spent time talking about a guy who owns a daycare and has a bathroom, and the two teachers and children all huddled in this bathroom they were reading children's books, singing songs and saying prayers. while that conversation will start now, a lot of phones haven't gotten to that point. they are just thanking their lucky stars it wasn't worse. >> and this isn't to undermine
the incredible stories of heroism. and craig melvin, thanks for your time, craig. hour, a math book, the idea that these kits were left with nothing but their packpacks and books to protect them. from something that happens regularly in this country. it disturbs me to hear that. i know we can't prevent tornadoes from happening, right? this is nature, but at the same time it does beg the question, are we do enough? was this community prepared enough? >> apparently not, not for those kids. from a good government perspective, it does beg the question. now the federal government will come in with overwhelming resources, to spent whatever it takes, çhopefully, and i suspe will spend whatever it takes.
some of that money could have probably better been spent at the front end. there is no amount of money that will restore the lives of children that have been killed. perhaps as a society, a government, we can look at spending some of that up front in a more cost-efficient way, thain overwhelming the situation. >> as deputy mayor, how much of something like this is a wake-up call to local leaders, state leaders to do something proactive to ensure this kind of damage and destruction doesn't hit their community? >> one of the things they're doing now is coming up with a comprehensive set of recommendations about what we can do in new york to avoid the situation we had last year. you could build a sea wall. mayor bloom better has been
speculative about that, because it will cost. we could do mahler mitigation projects than building one large seawall. i guess in oklahoma, and i'm obviously not an expert at çal but hearing that story you could make the argument that for probably a small amount of money you could build a saferoom or cellar. we're thinking about similar things. here in new york we didn't get it right, either. there were some things we can't have done to make new york better prepared and better safe for the hurricane we had, but certainly going forward, we look at what is the best way we can expect the money for the best return. >> you know, ron, after hurricanes sandy a lot of analysts said this brings to fore the question of the role of government. a lot of folks thought that hurricane sandy in many ways frustrated the president's argument about the role of
government and the need for go government to protect its citizens. you have in oklahoma where it begs that question, what is the role in government for the citizens and communities. you have to think that a lot of the families are asking themselves should we have had better protection? "new york times" said in a headline why no safe room to run to? cost and plains culture. they go to quote the former president of the oklahoma state home builders association, who says, weighing in on whether the government should man dade safe rooms in homes. most home builders would be against that, because we think the market ought to drive what people are putting in the houses, not the government. >> this argument is not new, it goes back to the boston tea party.ç since that time we've been full of people who hate our government until we need it. that's part of the american experience. we need to be careful about second-guessing ourselves.
we wouldn't like folks in oklahoma city saying, hey, people, you need to build that seawall. you do have to think, though, that now this has happened three times, this is their government, you have to think now that they're going to be looking at how much they want to be spending on things like protecting their kids in school, and for that matter, how about an issue for the whole country? that woman you had there, who put her body over five kids she probably makes $35,000. the teachers in newtown who protected the kids, the average salary is $42,000? are we spending enough to pay the people who are teaching our children -- or who are literally protecting -- the first responders? >> that's a problem not just in the red states, but in the blue states as well. >> may i take exception with something you said? i gray with we should be cautious about second-guessing
local decisions, but on the other hand when you have a situation that becomes a national tragedy and the national government is implicated, and taxpayers from around the country are involved in making that community whole, then it's not unreasonable to ì a conversation like we are having today. >> definitely. >> but i think there's a way to do it -- part of the problem, i think is this demonization of the role of government, which politicizes that you have the kind of comments we saw in "new york times," instead of how about a rational conversation that says we have this amount of money, maybe it makes sense to build shelters, rather than we don't want government coming in here, and similarly with teachers. teachers have demonized. how many stories we've had this year where teachers were the ones who were the mere hooeros. instead of going to movies about ironman, how about teachers? they literally throw their bodies in front of these kids, and maybe the seawall is not the right thing, but maybe there's
other investments that make more sense. >> and it dovetails into a national conversation or a dialogue or demagoguing in some case that is we're having around civil servants, whether they're fire fighters, first responders, and also regulations, i feel like we have this anti-regulatory zeal, where it's hampering growth and here is a regulation i think may have kept some people safer. >> and what's startling about moore, this wasn't an abstract problem or abstract threat.ç high school students have been through this in their memory. so we have a pretty clear-cut case of ideology trumping actual experience, which is kind of strange and extreme thing. >> it's like, what's the matter -- i think we should not be demonizing government, but we
also shouldn't be demonizing people whose first instincts are to be wary of government? >> we're talking about a community that was hit in 1999, in 2003, and again in 2013. there's no sense that oh, maybe we need to build homes differently? >> you're assuming that there's nobody saying that. >> fair enough. yes. >> and we don't know what factors went into the decisions. like, i agree with ron in that i'm reluctant to, you know, pass blame, but i hope that this community is able in the aftermath as a taxpayer i'm happy my dollars will go to hopefully build some shelters to save people the next time this happening, god forbid. i hope now they can have that conversation.ç
if they weren't able to have it before. >> we know the parents in moore love their children, so the kinds of decision they'll make now will be motivated by the need to protect their children. we don't know what decisions they will make. we hope that they, you know, will make the decisions best for them, but certainly it's not unreasonable to have a conversation, you know, we've had the conversation in new york about what do we do to spend the money wisely that we're getting from the federal government to protect the people so next time we have a hurricane, and we know there will be another one giving global climate change, how do we mitigate the damage and protect people's lives? >> obviously you can't blame the tornado on climate change, but all the severe weather we're having, any scientist will tell you it's directly linked to climate change. >> that's a really long conversation. ron foundier ending this on a
high note. >> may not make it to lunch. after the break, whether they're actually testifying or not, irs officials are spending another day on the capitol hill hot seat. yet irs office workers around the country were greeted by tea party protesters. we will discuss the latest round of grilling and whether or not there is actually a there there, when ezraç klein joins us live next on "now."
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during election season, but there was still plenty of drama at a hearing today. lois lerner, the head of the exempt organization divisions of the irs, who first disclosed the targeting, took the fifth this morning after being subpoenaed by the committee. two weeks ago she first learned about the agency's xwro pryities in 2012, about you a subsequent report by the inspector general cast doubt on that, concluding that lerner first knew of irs misdeeds as far back as 2011, a move that earned her four pin knock i don'ts from "the washington post." >> i have not done anything wrong. i have not broken any laws. i have not violated any irs rules or regulations, and i have not provided false information to this or any other committee. >> it immediately drew the ire
of south carolina republican trey gowdy, who apparently does not understand the fifth amendment of the u.s. constitution. >> you don't get to tell your side of the story and not be subjected to cross-examination. that's not the way it works. she waived the right to fifth amendment privilege by issuing an opening statement. she ought to stand here and answer our questions. >> lerner stood firm, but not better chairman darrell issa attempted to coax her to change her mind. >> would you be willing to answer questions specifically related to the earlier statement made under oath before this committee? >> i decline to answer that question for the reasons i have already given. >> lerner then left the room. her departure was followed by remarks from congressman issa, who announced that learna was, earth to trey gowdy, within her constitutional rights. perhaps wary of being seen as attempting to score points for
political gain, issa sounded a for bipar sanship. >> i would ask all of us to avoid talking about who is liked by president bush, who is liked by president obama, who is liked by republicans or democrats. let's all be be republicrats and demicans? >> or -- >> darrell issa i thought was incredibly shrewd in choosing to be above the partisan fighting on this one, even though up until this point, it's as if perhaps darrell issa has had a somewhat partisan agenda in pursuing all of this. >> it's not just shrewd but important. the mess that happened there, and to be fair, i don't think we
don't still know the entire totality. so far we're not seeing this go high up the chain, but we don't know what happened inside the irs or who exactly knew or why they did what they did. was it a mistaken strategy to deal with a flood of applicants or a targeted operation, or did it even go a bit higher than that. on something of this level of importance, whether you're talking abçout the irs, which an agency with enormous power, you need to keep that investigation on the straight and narrow. you need legitimacy in the eyes of the republic in order to have a sufficiently credible response. you can go and make whatever change made, either to the underlying -- create a muddled kind of political discretion, which i don't think they should have, or with the actual -- within the actual agency itself. it sure seems to me they're
focusing on the unit oar even above that. >> let's talk about sort of the -- you had a peet that was much circulated yet by some of our friends in republican circles. the title is why -- you wrote -- in politics as in life, when you constantly change your story, you sow doubt about your credibility and competence. i agree with that. >> you actually agree with that? >> i agree with anything hi writes. as ezra points out, we don't actually know what happens, right? but the going back and forth on the details is not really helping the white house argument that they haven't done anything wrong. it's not to say they did something wrong action but in terms of çcredibility, i do fe like there has been some -- >> first darrell issa is saying
he's nonpartisan or bipartisan is like saying the -- the the rain is not wet. but both parties have credibility problems, and certainly the white house has been ill serving the president, but letting information leak out, letting it be wrong and then having to correct the record. then when you put on top of that, yes, shy has the right, and shouldic voke the right if her lawyer tells her too, but you can't get around the fact that most people think it's fishy when somebody does that. they assume someone is guilty. we don't know what she doesn't want us to know. is it she knows she does something wrong? or is she knows there's something wrong that goes above her? we don't know. until we do know, there will be a cloud over the presidency. >> do you think this story has national implications? the simple fact is although the
republican sharks are circling, at least so far, there isn't a trace of blood in the water. one wonders how long republicans will bark up this tree while they ignore their own party's problems. >> i think there are real implications, but i think that one thing we have seen over the last couple days is the degree to which the white house seems to have internalized theç narrative that the republicans are out on a witch-hunt, and the degree to which they think they can sell that. they come out on sunday and give this extremely aggressive account -- >> part of a fishing expedition. >> really vigorous, and then the next day we hear, okay, dennis was briefed on this, we now have a leak this morning that links the same white house counsel to -- who was involved in this to interfering with -- in benghazi, to suggesting, you know, the white house should not publish a timeline. there's a narrative that i then
is emerging, where as ron said, the white house is not serving the president so well, they may have over-bet. karen is expressing dismay. s. >> there's two sides of this, having been through the wars in power -- >>. >> you know, on the one hand, i think this crisis communication 101, you're killed by what you don't know. part of the problem when you're the press person is you're trying to figure out -- trying to get your arms around everything, and it's the worse when someone sells i forgot to tell you this other part. i agree, ron, in your piece with that's what kills you. whether there was any wrongdoing or laws broken, it just doesn't look good. at the same time, though, this is a massive overreach. there's something i find stunning that we're talking about this everybody knew about this investigation long before the election.
if they were that freaked out, why didn't romney make more of -- >> they didn't confirm that it happened. >> c'mon, that doesn't stop -- that has never stopped anybody. each of these rep members say we don't know what we don't know. my point is, you know, there was an opportunity to talk about this before the election, so this whole like they were trying to cover it up until after the election, i take issue with that. you know, it bothered me this weekend to hear republicans -- frankly because it was something that we came up with, a culture of corruption, and chronnyism and cover-up, when the reason we talk about that in '05 and '06 was lying about getting us into the war, outing a cia agent in a time of war, bob may, tom delay went to jail, you know we were talking about very serious things, pay to play, which meant the people's business wasn't getting done. we weren't talking about bureaucrats making really stupid decision. >> the potency of this agent --
people thing about nick -- that has a deep root in the american imagination, however, as bill keller argued today, the president should -- i think the op-said said bring backç ken starr, and should call them and say you want to clean house? let's do this, let's go big. >> as somebody who lived through that, i wouldn't recommend that to the president if i was advising him. look, i think the american public think thinks there may be something wrong here, and i think they'll maybe give the republicans some latitude to find out some facts and get to the truth, because people are skeptical and concerned.
doorstep, the american people will turn on that then. they want the republicans to find out or want congress to find out what actually happened. it appears as if the republicans are just trying to make political hay -- >> that's darrell issa's comments, i think, were so well timed. ezra, my friend, you are still there. you wrote also today, when we were talking about cleaning house, it is kind of hard to clean hout st. house. there's a whole extended ç multihundred-day process that can potentially be kicked into gear. >> not even potentially. you can fire the top guy, which is what obama did. you problem is when you get down to the civil service, you kick in very strong civil service protections, actually there's
even a because of legacy. it doesn't mean you can't do it, and doesn't mean you shouldn't start, but the way that matters here is agent managers at the irs more reticent to put people out in the last couple years. that's left people in the agent that probably shouldn't be there. what's frustrated me watching some of this, on the one hand, you have this republican narrative, which disoperately want this scandal. other you kind of have a narrative emerging as well, if there wasn't an actual effort to political target, there's really no issue. you had agents here, one way or the other, who made terrible incompetent decisions, who showed very, very bad judgment in what they were doing, who appeared to have gone back after directors reigned them in and of just doing a very bad job at your job in a way that creates a national scandal, that should be enough to get fired. if it's not, that means we have some problems in the way we're doing or civil service
protections. there could be people who pay for this. itches ezra, multiple times as you were speaking, ron was saying ç"very smart, very smar" we agree with him. ivlgts you probably don't want to say it so -- it's all love. while capitol hill wednesday through the scandals, there's a hidden island of good news. ironically republicans don't want to put it on the map. we'll discuss the impact of the incredible shrinking deficit, just ahead. [ male announcer ] house rule number 53. big time taste should fit in a little time cup. new single serve cafe collections from maxwell house now available for use in the keurig k-cup brewer. always good to the last drop. you know, from our 4,000 television commercials. yep, there i am with flo. hoo-hoo! watch it! [chuckles] anyhoo, 3 million people switched to me last year, saving an average of $475.
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all i can say is it has worked well for us. last weeks capitol hill busied itself with a trifecta of controversies, something remarkable happened. the budget deficit, the thing republicans have been calling the single greatest threat to american freedom shrank -- a lot. amy writing -- but now the government as annual deficit is shrinking far faster than anyone expected. last week a new report by the congressional budget office estimated the deficit would shrink to $642 billion, or 4% of the nation's gdp. to put this into perspective
last year it was 7%, now it's 4%, by 2015, it's expected to be 2% of gdp. for years rpg have been sounding warnings about the deficit, one of the key themes, if you remember, of the 2012 election. >> we've always said we want to do what is necessary to try to bring this deficit and debt into balance. >> we've got to get it under control, because it's dragging or economy down and giving our children a diminished future. >> we have to put america on track to a balanced budget. >> what i know is spending is out of control,ç debt is out o control. and yet our deficits have actually been shall risening for several years. "forbes" called this phenomenon the best-kept secret in american politics, largely because it's enabled republicans to make huge cuts to government spending. after several seasons of his
teschia, this news, news of the fastest deficit reduction has fallen positive deaf ears. at the same time, speaker john boehner insists that jobs, not benghazi, not the irs, remains the top concern for republicans. >> that's why i continue to talk about jobs. it's our number one focus. >> and yet unemployment has remained stagnant. today 7.5% of americans are unemployed, and yearly 12 million people are still looking for work. in fact, according to "new york times," if the government hadn't cut spending and raised taxes over the past few years, we would have created 1.5 million more jobs. ezra, it's not on which i get to quote a wife to a husband, but annie lowery wrote a great piece talking about this deficit and perhaps the quiet -- it's not the quiet ending to hysteria, but the fact there's been no attention paid to this.
in your mind, how much of a big deal is this? >> i've heard ofç this amy lowy before. let me just make a couple quick points. one, the way the basic shape goes now is that it drops very sharply. in the last couple years faster than any time in the post-world war ii period. for a deficit that's much lower than you're four-year average, then it begins to rise again. it's kind of got the shape of the nike swoosh. >> thank you for that metaphor. >> but we actually -- i'm going to do this here, we just shouldn't do it. >> wow. >> exactly the wrong way to do it. it should be a much more gradual decline. if. you see a much more gradual decline, instead of dropping precipitously and then rising
against in the out years, you see it -- instead of being 3.6, it's only about 2.1, 2.2. that's a much wiser way to go. there's sort after weird lack of understanding of this, there's a weird celebration on the left. it's kind of bad news. this is not the shape we should being do deficit reduction in. if we had a more rational approach, we could be seeing more total deficitç reduction d much better job growth in the next two or three. >> that's a big if, right? karen, they write in the "the washington post," that the gop was never really interested in a grand bargain to take debt and deficits off the table. the goal is to dramatically reduce the scope of what government does. >> also, that's the talking point. if they really cared about that,
they probably wouldn't have -- just sayin'. good talking point, and then i think they stupid abled into it and discovered, by the way, we can cut all those things we don't like. >> i just think, ben, it's so crass -- we are preoccupied with the irs and benghazi, and i don't know if there's that much there there. setting that metaphor aside, this is something that republicans have been beating the drum on incessantly saying it's a threat to our freedom, now it's going down in a way that ezra says is not the best way possible, there's more prudent course of action, but the conversation has stopped. >> if you listen to the language they use, though, it's not analyt analytic. they're talking about the kind of country that we leave to our children, and that is into a real concern. the concern isn't with the
deficit and debt. the real concern should be with growth. we're looking, as ezra suggests, we had pretty belief, long-term trajectories, and so there is a real kind of i think emotional well of something about this economy is going wrong action and the way republicans have created that is through the language invested in debt. there's something a bit off there, maybe dishonest or just advantageous. >> howard, to continue gnawing on this, i think this is happening at the same time that the house has voted for the 38th time to repeal obama care, at the same time that its budget savant, paul ryan's budget is predicated on keeping obama care in place. >> you know what they say, the 38th time in a charm. part of the challenge for both parties here, at least in some part, some measure, this is due to the sequester, which nobody
wants to take credit for at all. here at the local level, it hasn'ten absolutely devastating, but it's caused real problems, especially in a couple key areas. a lot of people don't love what the sequester did, but if you look at it in aggregate, it's probably had an impact on deficit. anchts we've talked about these moral terms. let's go back to what happened in oklahoma, what democrats have been talking about, i am my brother's keeper, we're not going to leave people in going to leave people in oklahoma there to just know, starve and have no clothes and just not rebuilt. and similarly, many of us believe that is in effect what the social safety net is about, when you need it, it should be there. when people are in this kind of need we should be there as a country, so in terms of the morals and the values, they like to talk about the deficit as it's hamstringing our future, well, wait a second. the kind of country i want to be is to make sure we don't leave people out in the cold when they're in need. >> i would also say, ron, too
boehner's point that the number one focus is -- really? ic have fooled me. i mean, unemployment is at 7.5%. this is really somebody that neither party is doing a good the proportion of americans working is the lowest -- i think something like 50% of the jobs created last year were $33,000 or lower. >> 40% of people out of a job more than 18 months say they have lost contact with their best friends. it's a real crisis going on out there. ezra is much smarter than me on everything, but what -- i understand that the deficit is down, i get it, but have we
solved the long-term budget problems, long-term generational problems we have? is this a matter of the patient's pleading has stopped, but she's still bleeding out? you talk about rosy sonar iuo o iuori iuorios, are we really ready to celebrate? >> if i could jump in on that. >> please. >> number one, the best news by farce is health care costs are coming down the is it obama care? is it high deductibles, whatever it is, that's a long-term trajectoriship. but this is dr ron is right about this -- the real why are we doing that changes on the discretionary sides? sequestration that will evaporate? it just goat right away, that
could, but also changes to medicare to social security and what's called mandatory spendings? that stuff not only sticks around, but grows very quickly. to just give one example, the obama administration has proposed higher premiums for wealthy folks in medicare. that would only save 25 or 30 billion in the -- my understanding is that it saves mo are than $200 billion in the second ten years. those are the policies that make sense. but there are policies that have been completely left off the table. and much dumber long-term stuff for the deficit, too. we've installed this in the absolute dumbest way possible. >> ron is not ed ra klein, thank you as always. coming up, salacious tabloid
frenzy check scandal, check. time served in political purgatory, check. rehabilitation campaign roll-out and ultimate victory, check, check, and possibly. we will discussion anthony weiner's road to redemption and whether or not howard wilson will vote for him, coming up next. ♪ [ laughs ] whoo. ♪ oh. nice! great! [ laughs ]
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they could save a lot of money on their car insurance by switching to geico...they may even make you their best man. may i have the rings please? ah, helzberg diamonds. nice choice, mate. ...and now in the presence of these guests we join this loving couple. oh dear... geico. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance. in an e-mail to politico, a new york democrat calls him the best pure political talentç in the field. that same e-mailer also claims no one wants to work for him. ladies and gentlemen, anthony weiner is back in the game. we'll handicap his prospects, coming up next. all stations come over to mission a for a final go.
he's back. former congressman anthony weiner will indeed enter the race for new york city mayor. his first campaign ad is out today. >> look, i made some big mistakes, i know i let a lot of people down, but i've also learned some tough lessons. i'm running for mayor, because i've been fighting for the middle class my entire life. >> i asked you, howard, you've four minutes to sanitize your answer. does he stand a chance? >> when anthony ran in 2005, he started out nowhere. now knew where he was. he ran a smart, aggressive race. he was everywhere. i literally bumped into him several times on a weekend because he was campaigning so hard, he was getting up at 4:00, staying out until midnight ç campaigning.
he had a really tight, good message aimed at the middle class in new york. he almost got into the runoff. he did not, but he proved he's a earn p of real political talent. the question is whether that political talent will be enough, whether people can watch his video and separate the message from the messenger, whether they will find it credible that he is actually devoting his life for fighting for the middle class, or whether this is more about him and his own redemption. one of the thing, karen knows this wells, that what the clintons were good at, it was always about the voters. it was never about them. it was always about making the lives of the people who were going to vote for them better. at the end of the day. they understood on some level politics was transactional. you want to vote for the person who will do something that will make your life better. if he can connect, he has a chance. if it become a soap opera, tabloid, obviously not. >> if there are any more tweets,
just god save us all. thank you all. that's all for "now." see you back here tomorrow when i'm joined by richard wolffe, harold bernstein, mark ma sethi and actor ken badgley. until then, follow us on twitter. "andrea mitchell reports" is coming up next. [ female announcer ] everything that goes into a lennox system
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her long day of pick ups and drop offs begins with arthritis pain... and a choice. take up to 6 tylenol in a day or just 2 aleve for all day relief. all aboard. ♪ right now "andrea mitchell reports," we tour what's level of an elementary school accompanied today by the first responders. >> here this is actually a cafeteria. where the kids had lunch. >> it's always a sickening feeling when we come to a school